Many of us like a good quiz, so here are some questions to test your bible knowledge …
- In which country did the readers receive Galatians, Ephesians and Colossians?
- Where was Timothy when Paul wrote his letters to him?
- Where did Philemon live?
- Where were the 7 churches of Revelation located?
- In which modern day country is Antioch, where the disciples were first called Christians?
I hope all you quizzers have spotted a recurring theme! The answer is Turkey, Turkey and Turkey. In fact a huge proportion of the New Testament is linked to the land that is modern day Turkey. Paul’s missionary journeys were sent from the church in Turkey (Antioch is now Antakya) to much of the rest of Turkey.
Yet today, despite the history of the early church, this country is quite barren to the gospel. It is estimated that there are around 7000 Turkish believers in Turkey, if you’re good with maths, that means in a country of 70 million, the number of believers is around 0.01%. But it gets far worse than that as Eastern Turkey is pretty much unreached by the good news of Jesus, where the figures fall to 0.001% typically and sometimes zero.
Modern day Turkey seeks to be the bridge between east and west, is strategic politically, militarily and even economically. The new airport in Istanbul with 6 runways is planned to be double the size of the current largest airport in the world. Right now you can fly to more countries from Turkey than from any other country. Istanbul’s skyline is increasingly filled with high rise, glass fronted buildings of great architectural design.
Despite all the modern images, the lovely seaside resorts, the high mountains (did you know you can ski there?) and the cosmopolitan buzz of Istanbul, the country is bound by Islam. That’s not to say everyone is a passionate Muslim, many are proud to be Muslim but aren’t serious about practising their faith with any great commitment, but being Muslim is part of their national identity. To be Turkish is to be Muslim. That makes “becoming a follower of Jesus” a huge deal, to be seen to deny one’s nationality, to bring shame on the family and often to become a traitor and an outcast in society.
So what hope is there? Loads!! Jesus Christ IS building his church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it! Churches are getting more people “drop in” to ask questions than you’d ever get in a UK church. One church has an average of around 5 people a day who call in, many of whom take a New Testament and other literature. There is a disillusionment experienced by many in Turkey and this is causing some to search for truth. When those who have been bound by Islam hear the truth, they are so often astounded by GRACE. Grace is something new and quite stunning – that God loves them unconditionally without them having to do things and earn his favour. And that’s the brilliant good news of the gospel to be proclaimed! Turkish people are coming to faith in Jesus Christ!
- Pray for Turkey! Please just do it – personally, in small groups, in prayer triplets, whatever, please pray.
- With only 0.01% Turkish believers in the country, we need many more missionaries to get up and go. In the UK the seed of God’s Word is being sown, even though the ground is hard, but in so many places in Turkey the seed is not even being sown. Can you work in Turkey to support the fledgling, often first generation churches? Could you teach in a school, teach English as a foreign language, be an IT worker, run a small business, or fulfil one of the many other opportunities to live in Turkey? Do get in touch for a chat…